Administrators and Student Resource Officers (SROs) will want as many details as possible so that their accusation against your bully will be as accurate as possible. Some bullying is actually a crime, and the SRO can assist you with filing a criminal complaint.
To help with reporting harassment, record bullying incidents on your phone, write a description on your text or phone’s data section, or write your descriptions in a notebook. If the bullying is online or through texts, save the messages or take screenshots to show administrators and/or the police. Also, if it was cyberbullying, also contact your Internet, cell-phone service, and social media providers and report abuse of the service.
If you are worried about retribution, remember that most schools have security cameras and bystanders often report bullying so teachers can find out about it without you reporting the bullying. But you do need as many details as possible.
Look for your bullies in old yearbooks if you do not recognize the person(s). If you still cannot identify the person, describe the person’s clothing, height, skin color, and hair color as well as you can. Teachers often know who the troublemakers are.
After an incident, send an email or letter to the principal and the SRO stating what occurred, giving as many details as possible. Please be aware that when you email school employees, the email becomes part of the public record, while letters do not. Write with a professional tone (no swear or slang words, except when quoting someone else) stating that this behavior is creating a hostile learning environment and describe how the bullying makes you feel. Also state what you want the principal to do, such as intervene in your case, increase teacher surveillance, etc.
- Write your description as soon as possible so you don’t forget any of the details. Include:
- Time and date
- Exact location
- Words used
- Description of any physical bullying
- Your response
- School employees to whom you have spoken (and their response)
Prepare to speak to the principal or a vice principal in person. If the incident involved cyberbullying or hitting/pushing/etc., require the SRO’s presence because criminal charges may need to be filed. If you feel more comfortable with a parent, guardian, teacher, or other adult present, request their presence. Write down any information you think would be useful. This can be very stressful but remember to be polite. Try to stay calm so that you avoid emotionally charged language, swear words, and name-calling. Teachers and principals lose empathy for people who “don’t play well with others.” Stand up for yourself but use respectful words when describing teachers and classmates.
Afterwards, write down a description of the conversation. This will help you if the the bullies continue to harass you and you have to talk to the principal again or take it to a lawyer.
Expect to have a follow-up meeting with the principal to make sure you are not having any more problems.
Send another message if you continue to be bullied. Request another meeting with additional people. If you did not already do this, cc (carbon copy) your follow-up message to the guidance counselor and the school system’s superintendent. If you think the principal isn’t going to help because of their personal views, read what to do when your school administrator isn’t supportive.
Report Harassment to Safe Schools NC. If you are a student in North Carolina, you (or your parent or guardian) may report the harassment to Safe Schools NC. They will contact you and help you brainstorm your next steps.
- Example message:
- Dear Principal Jones and Officer Smith,
Every day before and after 3rd period, I experience harassment on the basis of my sexual orientation. In the boys’ locker room, Bob Bailey calls me a faggot and tells me not to look at him each day. I have responded by ignoring and avoiding looking at him; however, this behavior is creating a hostile learning environment in which I increasingly feel unsafe. I told Coach Smith about the name-calling. He replied by saying, “Boys will be boys.” Could you intervene in some way so that I can safely dress for P.E.? I would be happy to discuss this incident further. My parents have requested that they be present for any meetings you and I have.
Fred Hall, 9th grader